Category Archives: office 365

BETT Show Excel London 2015 Moodle with Microsoft

Sean and the Webanywhere team at BETT 2015 Excel London

Sean and the Webanywhere team at BETT 2015 Excel London

Webanywhere’s 5th BETT Show in London saw us launch a number of new products and services. Our two main product lines now have OneDrive integration which allows schools to quickly use their Office365 files in both our School Jotter and Moodle platforms. The Moodle functionality has been released to the open source community making it free for anyone to use. The key advantage of storing files on OneDrive is the ability to access your files at anytime and on any device. Office365 makes version control of your documents a breeze and avoids the pain of duplicate files causing confusion. You could start a word document on your mobile phone and then see it in your Moodle LMS with no extra work involved.

During the Moodle with Microsoft Better Together Seminar including Jason Cole, CEO of Remote Learner and Doug Mahugh, Senior Technical Evangelist of Microsoft Open Technologies a walk through of how Moodle can play with Office365, Azure, Active Directory, OneDrive and OneNote was demonstrated. This code has been released to the open source Moodle community and I was particularly impressed by how OneNote assignments could be submitted and then marked.

Webanywhere BETT 2015 Stand

Webanywhere BETT 2015 Stand

Once the presentation had finished I asked what the plans for the future would be and whether Office Mix (PowerPoint with narration functionality, quizzes and analytics) and Yammer (a social network) would be on the development roadmap. Doug replies this was being investigated and future developments could also include Skype integration. Skype of course would be great for starting an online meeting straight from Moodle.

The lecture theatre was certainly packed for the Moodle with Microsoft talk and the new integrations look like they will improve productivity and easy of use for a great many teachers. After all teachers want to be teaching and coaching not conducting unnecessary administration which can be solved by new technologies! It makes sense to link Moodle the most popular open source learning management system in the world with Microsoft who have a strong reputation for their office productivity software.

Future Decoded – Apps in the Cloud on any Device driving Big Data

Satya Nadella at Future Decoded Roundtable

Satya Nadella at Future Decoded round table

Visiting London Excel recently, I was lucky enough to meet the Global CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella at a business round table discussion. Much of the discussion centered around the cloud and how Microsoft want to be great at productivity software.

Three main product and services lines underpin Microsoft’s ambitions to be one of the mega vendors in the cloud computing space. Office 365, Azure and Dynamics are Microsoft’s big bets on the future where consumers can access their software and apps on multiple devices in anyplace and anywhere.

Satya believes the truth of the product and customer realities are important in the digital age. Microsoft allows some customers who are uncomfortable in moving entirely to the cloud a hybrid cloud alternative. However, with £5 billion spent on Microsoft Azure infrastructure and data centers in Dublin and The Netherlands, Microsoft is encouraging us all to move to the cloud.

Recent partnerships with Dropbox, Salesforce and others demonstrates that Microsoft accept customers will dual source their software. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are now available on iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads for free. So it’s no real surprise to see Word’s rise to number 1 in app download charts.

This new ‘horizontalisation’ of software represents a big sea change from the past when vendors, developers and resellers were either in the Microsoft camp or outside that in the Open Source, Linux, Google or Apple camp. 20% of services now delivered on Azure and the Microsoft cloud are Linux, which demonstrates that Microsoft does indeed love Linux. What Microsoft wants is 1st class product excellence – irrespective of the software stack in use.

Satya Nadella went on to explain how a mobile first, cloud first approach means people’s devices will come and go but all their data will be available anywhere and anytime on cloud. The world is becoming more digital and people want more responsive software. Whilst the cloud is becoming generally more accepted, Microsoft demonstrated how management policies can be set up to avoid people sending sensitive information outside of the organisation alongside mobile device security management.

I asked Satya how Microsoft would influence the future of education. The reality of the cloud and management console will allow teachers to act as IT technicians in schools. A new version of PowerPoint is to be launched and will allow teachers to bring PowerPoint to life in the classroom, with the ability to create quizzes and much more. For network managers using Active Directory, this can be taken to the cloud with just 5 clicks, making migrating to the cloud less daunting. Schools still need to be educated in the benefits of cloud computing, but over time this transformation will take place allowing teachers to teach and worry less about whether the technology works. IT will become similar to turning your gas or electricity on and off.

Webanywhere are already in the cloud. We intend to continue to offer our customers Office 365 integration with School Jotter. Like Microsoft, we understand it is important to ensure our software plays with others. Collaboration is more important than competition. We should move our software to the cloud and not have our heads in the cloud!